One might judge the accomplishments of a person by the knowledge they have amassed. Their insatiable quest for more of everything. The wisdom that the journey has bestowed upon them over the time they have been traveling. Most important is their willingness to share everything, their ability to teach.
It has been months since we all said goodbye to Anthony Bourdain. I have been reading most everything I can find about the man, I have been amazed and learned so much. With respect, I say: “Thank You Chef and Godspeed.”
Two Dozen Rules, Per Bourdain
Not quite quotes but my take on the words of Anthony Bourdain . . .
- Travel, anywhere and everywhere, across the globe – around the corner
- Meet people, befriend them, learn from them, ask to share their food
- Know how to cook basic good food, it is fundamental, a required skill set
- The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple %!-*$^# answer
- I make shows that all have a completely different look in every single episode; in the kitchen we recreate every meal with precision – know the difference
- Demand the freedom to be different, tell the story your way – publish now
- Look within yourself, find what has true and honest worth – share it
- Learn to say NO often, and say YES with absolute rarity
- Strength lies within the team, not the individual – understand?
- Being able to tell your story is a privilege, having people listen is an honor
- Develop your character, it is the most important human trait
- If it’s not right and you’re not proud of it, ‘trash it’ – start from scratch and accept only your best
- Regret people who have been hurt, those who have been let down, assets wasted, and advantages squandered
- Eating well is all about taking risks – you %!-*$^# win
- Good food is usually the simplest food
- Your life can be just like the movies, that quintessential novel, or your favorite comic book
- Question the status quo, try new things – now
- Learn to recognize failure – learn from it
- Food and wine are understandable, people not so much
- Punctuality and organization matter, in every facet of life
- Being prepared prevents poor performance
- Define your expectations, are your desires within reach? – if not, reach higher
- Recognize life for what it is, unequal parts of the good, the bad and the ugly
- People who work with you should feel that you have given them your very best
In Part I of Anthony Bourdain, I noted some similarities I shared with this chef, author, and filmmaker. He had lived where I lived – in a small North Jersey community – understood the value of a well-made cheesesteak on the boardwalk or a deep-fried hot dog at Rut’s Hut, fell in love with the kitchen at an early age (whether in Seaside Heights or Provincetown, Mass.). We both followed a career path letting us claim the chef title, the larger paycheck that it entailed, taking our brigade along for the ride.
As chefs we survive by our talents acquired – often their descriptions by others are more accurate. It was said that Bourdain was well-read, organized, timely, his knife skills – excellent, his understanding and practice of kitchen procedures – flawless. Although it might have seemed comical at times, his management style was characterized by a certain savoir-faire only those of us in the business could understand. He could walk into a failing kitchen with his team and restore order and profitability.
The internal mise en place of a chef, his ability to have a place for everything and everything in its place, is essential. That said, if any of the previously mentioned elements are missing, everything should still appear completely under control, even if there are still fires to be extinguished. The uncanny mystery, the holy grail, of the ‘super chef’ was, alas, not in the cards for either of us, but that defines neither success nor failure. It merely is . . .
Both of us showed complete respect to those culinary masters who defined our tradecraft, in awe of that 4 Star world – maybe afraid to peruse it, maybe it just alluded us. We considered ourselves lucky when we crossed paths with the most talented, the ones we respected, the ones we were lucky enough to befriend. Late night restaurants, New York City bars, the places we frequented when the kitchen had been put to bed spotless, with tomorrow’s prep list written and orders placed. It seems we both traveled that same path – too many late nights, too much alcohol, simply too much. At moments our future eluded us, at others it seemed almost crystal clear. I know our paths crossed, though the self-induced haze of those early mornings prevents me from recounting when or where – it was certainly in a saloon or two of ill repute.
It’s January of 2019. After writing this I have learned a thing or two. I couldn’t be happier for the journey or more proud of this chef – his writing, his film, the travel, the things I learned from him. The final coincidence is a bit of Yin and Yang. Tony was able to travel the world, meeting the people, making new friends, sharing their stories with us. On the other hand, world travelers find their way to this cozy small hotel on Long Island, and now I am able to sit in this comfortable leather chair, cigar and bourbon in hand, sharing some of my stories. Thank You for the privilege…
A Bourdain Book List
- The French Laundry Cookbook – Thomas Keller
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Julia Child
- La Technique – Jacques Pepin
- White Heat – Marco Pierre White
- Le Bernardin Cookbook – Eric Ripert
- Nose To Tail Eating – Fergus Henderson
- La Cuisine du Marché – Paul Bocuse
- The Ivy – AA Gill
- The Epicurean – Charles Ranhofer
- Down and Out in Paris and London – George Orwell
- The Kitchen Book – Nicolas Freeling
- The Belly of Paris – Emile Zola
And a few more books with thanks to the NY Times . . .
The Best of Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain’s Moveable Feast
The New Yorker
Guided by a lusty appetite for indigenous culture and cuisine, the swaggering chef has become a traveling statesman.
Anthony Bourdain’s TV Legacy
‘Parts Unknown’ Producer Sandra Zweig
I think he allowed people to see and go to places that they may never go to, and at least that gives them a little bit more insight into another culture
Renegade Chef Who Reported From the World’s Tables
The former chef turned writer and TV host exposed the underbelly of restaurant culture and took viewers on far-flung culinary adventures with biting wit and a worldly outlook.
10 Essential Episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Parts Unknown’
A guide to the author/travel host’s most exciting TV adventures
Anthony Bourdain-Inspired Class Taught at Louisiana University
Food & Wine
“This course will pair Bourdain’s work with the writings and films that influenced him, connecting ways of understanding the world around us through the lens of a transformative writer and public figure.”
In Honor of Anthony Bourdain, Eat Before, After, and As You Read This
Edible Long Island
Anthony Bourdain expanded the minds and palates of everyone who ever read or watched him.
For Local Chefs, the Loss of Anthony Bourdain Feels Personal
Edible East End
“What the loss of Bourdain comes down to,” says Almond chef Jeremy Blutstein, “is that he gave cooks a voice and he opened people’s eyes”
A Glimpse at Anthony Bourdain’s New York City
Eater New York
A little look at Bourdain’s thoughts on his home city over the years
“There is no final resting place of the mind.” AB
Thanks for taking this ride with me.